Tokyo Olympics: Peter Burling, Blair Tuke take control of 49ers, gold theirs to lose in medal race

Kiwi yachties haven't found the Tokyo Olympics plain sailing, but Peter Burling and Blair Tuke have finally seized control of the 49er class, entering the final double-point medal race on top of thier classification.

The defending champions began their campaign with a wobbly 12th, raising doubts over how they might handle shifty conditions off the Japanese coast over the week.

But that's as bad as it got for the America's Cup heroes, who finally moved into a clear lead on Saturday, moving away from their nearest rivals - Brits Dylan Fletcher and Stuart Bithell, and Spaniards Diego Botin le Chever and Iago Lopez Marra.

All three crews entered the day tied on points, but with the Kiwis ahead on countback. Fifth, second and 11th over their final three races were enough to build a four-point buffer into Monday's decider, where they can now cover their opponents for victory. 

"We were definitely a little frustrated with that last race, but we still gained four points on everyone around us today," says Burling. "It's a massive honour putting on that gold bib for the first time going into that medal race.

"It definitely feels like a few things haven't rolled our way this week, but we have been battling back and getting ourselves in the hunt. It's been a really fun battle this week and we're just excited to round it out with one more good race."

The pair have a rest day on Sunday, before their final outing the following day.

Meanwhile, fellow Team NZ sailor Josh Junior has also continued his move up the Finn fleet, making the biggest ground to sit in fifth with two more races and the medal event to come. 

"It was really important for me to get some good results today," he says. "I haven't had many of them, so I needed to start racking them up and try to go into the medal race with a chance of winning a medal. 

"I was trying to be a bit more proactive, and really make clear decisions and take the opportunities I have. I think I got lucky a couple of times today, but sometimes that happens."

Laser sailor Sam Meech enters Sunday's medal race in eighth, with an outside chance of grabbing a medal - but he would need to win and hope others struggle in the conditions.